When I started at Google, I began working in the AdSense Online Sales and Operations team. The demand for AdSense was overwhelming and we received tens of thousands of website applications each day asking to be granted permission to run Google’s ad product on their websites.
Sometimes, automated approval systems would reject an application based upon strong spam or fraud signals. But thousands of applications each day demanded additional human judgement. So a team of us worked “the Bin.”
The Bin was an approval tool that gathered all the data possible about an applicant from external sources and internal sources and presented the data in one hyper-data-dense screen which provided us all the information necessary to make a decision as quickly as possible.
In my eyes, it was the zenith of productivity software. The leverage was astounding: a team of five to ten people could routinely process about 10k requests each day. Applications were approved and dispatched in a few seconds with some keyboard shortcuts.
Over the past few days, I’ve been building a “Bin” of my own that ingests Twitter followers and LinkedIn contacts. I dubbed it the “Twitter Game.” The tool is downright ugly but it’s effective.
The Twitter Game gathers data from the web about these users through various APIs, presents each individual one at a time on the screen and I sift through them looking for interesting people to meet and startups I should know about. The salient accounts are placed into a follow up bucket with a few keyboard shortcuts (which are surprisingly easy to code with jQuery).
Building this tool is part of my strategy of social media mechanization and trying to measure the value of blog, by ensuring that I’m reaching the right audience with my content.
Each startup has examples of tools like the Bin and the Twitter game that are built out of necessity. And though they never receive the credit they deserve, such tools are force multipliers.